Now playing

Currently playing song: “Relative Ways” by And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead on Source Tags and Codes. Sadly, while this song sounds a whole lot like really good Sonic Youth a la A Million Leaves or Washing Machine, the rest of the album sounds a whole lot like… a lot of other bands. I might think better of it after another listen.

Rocking for Mother Earth

Just got back from the 2002 Earth Fest at the Hatch Shell in Boston. Johnny A, Garbage, Lisa Loeb, Midnight Oil, and Bonnie Raitt. I’m a bit sunburned and dehydrated, but happy.

Garbage played a short set, maybe seven songs, but rocked pretty well. Lisa Loeb seemed to play on forever. I’m sort of a fan, but I had to agree when my friend Carie said to me, “She tries to sound really happy, but she’s got all these Alanis Morrisette lyrics.” “Yeah,” I said, “She’s like what if Alanis went to Mt. Holyoke.”

Midnight Oil rocked my world. I had forgotten that there was a period of time, starting around 1987 or 1988, when I listened to this band quite a lot. The CDs are long gone but the band is still going strong. One of our friends, a banker-to-be from Europe, was enjoying the show. He confessed, “I used to be really into this band, but then I used to be a Communist too.”

I was too tired to take in much Bonnie Raitt; when I found myself almost falling asleep I decided it was time to head back. Good show, though, and well worth the money I didn’t pay for it (yeah, it was a free show!).

Listening day

Happiness is a new Elvis Costello record and finally having Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in my hands. EC: return to form. So far, with the exception of the song with samples, sounds a lot like “Brutal Youth.” Wilco: it’s a miracle the album came out at all, what with all the mess around its release. More later. Must listen, must listen.

Can’t hear the orchestra. You’re talking too loud

New York Times: Lamenting the Fade-Out of Classical Radio. Apparently another classical station is undergoing a format change to embrace more talk. Michael Kimmelman writes:

The big problem is that music has been progressively dumbed down over the years, and not just at WNYC. Talk about music has replaced music itself, or the music is guitar sonatas and easy-listening favorites, background noise that drives away serious devotees. The public can judge quality. If you cheapen a product enough, eventually no one will want it. It is no surprise people have stopped tuning in.

As someone who’s often felt the urge to call up stations in Boston and Washington and yell at them to find something in a minor key, or with a chorus, or written before 1780 or after 1880, I’ll confirm Kimmelman’s observations. But this isn’t the whole story. The dismemberment of “Performance Today”, one of the refuges of unique, challenging, and interesting classical music performance, shows that classical music has someone actively gunning for it. [Disclaimer: I’ve been on “Performance Today” as part of the Virginia Glee Club.]

I’ll also note that the disappearance of jazz stations should have served as a warning. But we were all tuned in to Rush, Howard, and even “All Things Considered” to notice.

RIAA hoist by its own price-fixin’ petard?

Blogaritaville: Price Fixing Since 1996 Caused CD Sales Slowdown. When the RIAA is trying to blame consumers’ file-sharing ways for slumping sales in 2001, I think it’s worth looking at some other factors. Scriban compares average cost of a CD (from the RIAA’s own figures!) against CD unit sales and makes a fairly persuasive argument.

Of course, correlation is not causality. There are other factors at work, like the rise of lousy me-too bands in just about every segment and the inexplicable resurgence of teen pop (I thought Kriss Kross had been the final stake in that coffin. You remember Kriss Kross—fourteen year old kids rapping “I’m the mack daddy! No, I’m the daddy mack!”).

Johnny Cash and NIN

New York Times, Johnny Cash: an American Original Returns. According to the article, Cash is recording his fourth album:

“The songs are coming from every direction,” Mr. Cash said of his forthcoming album. “I’ve written two or three new ones, and I recorded a Sting song called `I Hung My Head.’ I’ve recorded a Marty Robbins song called `Big Iron.’ I’m recording `The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,’ that Roberta Flack song. And I’m recording `Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails.”


Now playing

Currently playing song: “Cold Turkey” by John Lennon on Lennon Legend.

I just went looking for the original album for this song and found to my surprise that it was from a single by the Plastic Ono Band, on which it was paired with the equally memorable “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mommy’s Just Looking For A Hand In the Snow”). The latter, needless to say, was a Yoko song.

Now playing

Currently playing song: “You Are Invited” by The Dismemberment Plan on Emergency & I.

Man, I had totally forgotten about this song until the other day. This was one of those songs that hung around on KEXP forever but no one on the east coast seems to know. Kick-butt song…

I really didn’t stay too long there
Cause no one was having much fun
I made my way to a party all the way cross town
That was thrown by the friend of an ex-thing
I wasn’t sure if I should go
But when I got up in the place there were smiles all up and down
I grabbed my ex in the kitchen
I told her I was sorry I came
But she looked at me with a glazed smile and said
“You are invited
By anyone to do anything
You are invited for all time
You are so needed
For everyone to do anything
You are invited for all time”